Provision and experience of care among women with hypertension in pregnancy: a multi-center qualitative study in Ghana

Reprod Health. 2023 Mar 25;20(1):49. doi: 10.1186/s12978-023-01593-0.


Background: Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) remain a leading global health problem with complex clinical presentations and potentially grim birth outcomes for both mother and fetus. Improvement in the quality of maternal care provision and positive women's experiences are indispensable measures to reduce maternal and perinatal adverse outcomes.

Objective: To explore the perspectives and lived experiences of healthcare provision among women with HDP and the associated challenges.

Methods: A multi-center qualitative study using in-depth interviews (IDIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs) was conducted in five major referral hospitals in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana between June 2018 and March 2019. Women between 26 and 34 weeks' gestation with confirmed HDP who received maternity care services were eligible to participate. Thematic content analysis was performed using the inductive analytic framework approach.

Results: Fifty IDIs and three FGDs (with 22 participants) were conducted. Most women were between 20 and 30 years, Akans (ethnicity), married/cohabiting, self-employed and secondary school graduates. Women reported mixed (positive and negative) experiences of maternal care. Positive experiences reported include receiving optimal quality of care, satisfaction with care and good counselling and reassurance from the health professionals. Negative experiences of care comprised ineffective provider-client communication, inappropriate attitudes by the health professionals and disrespectful treatment including verbal and physical abuse. Major health system factors influencing women's experiences of care included lack of logistics, substandard professionalism, inefficient national health insurance system and unexplained delays at health facilities. Patient-related factors that influenced provision of care enumerated were financial limitations, chronic psychosocial stress and inadequate awareness about HDP.

Conclusion: Women with HDP reported both positive and negative experiences of care stemming from the healthcare system, health providers and individual factors. Given the importance of positive women's experiences and respectful maternal care, dedicated multidisciplinary women-centered care is recommended to optimize the care for pregnant women with HDP.

Keywords: Experience of care; Hypertension in pregnancy; Maternal hypertension; Quality of care.

Plain language summary

High blood pressure (hypertension) in pregnancy can have severe complications for both mother and fetus including loss of life. The outcome of pregnancy for women who develop hypertension during pregnancy can be improved by ensuring optimal quality of care. In this study, we explored the opinions and experiences of women whose pregnancies were affected by hypertension concerning the care they received during their recent admission at different hospitals in Ghana and the challenges they faced. In four major referral hospitals in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana, we interviewed the women and had focus group discussions. Women who were pregnant for 26 weeks up to 34 weeks and had hypertension in pregnancy were invited for inclusion in the study.We conducted in-depth interviews with fifty women and three focus group discussions with 22 women. Most women who participated in the study were between 20 and 30 years old, Akans (ethnicity), married/cohabiting, self-employed and secondary school graduates. The women reported both positive and negative experiences of care during their admission at the hospitals. Examples of positive experiences were receiving good quality of care, satisfaction with care, and adequate counselling from the health workers. Examples of negative experiences were poor communication between the providers and affected women, inappropriate attitudes by the healthcare providers, and disrespectful treatment such as verbal and physical abuse. The major factors in the health system that influenced women’s experiences of care were lack of logistics, substandard professionalism, inefficient national health insurance system and long delays at health facilities prior to receiving treatment. The individual women’s factors that affected the quality of care included financial constraints, psychosocial stress and inadequate knowledge about hypertension during pregnancy.In conclusion, we determined that women with hypertension in pregnancy experience both positive and negative aspects of care and these may be due to challenges associated with the healthcare system, health providers and women themselves. There is the need to ensure optimal quality and respectful maternity care considering the nature of hypertension in pregnancy. These women require dedicated hospital staff with significant experience to improve the quality of care provided to women with hypertension in pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Ghana
  • Humans
  • Hypertension*
  • Maternal Health Services*
  • Pre-Eclampsia*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women / psychology
  • Qualitative Research